Caroline County is a county located in the U.S. state — officially, "Commonwealth" — of Virginia. As of the 2000 census, the population was 22,121. Its county seat is Bowling Green. Caroline County is also home to Meadow Farms Stables, the birthplace of the renowned racehorse Secretariat, winner of the 1973 Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown.
During the Colonial Period, Caroline County was the birthplace of Thoroughbred Racing in North America. Arabian horses were imported from England to provide the basis for American breeding stock. Caroline County was also the home of the famous 1973 Triple Crown winner Secretariat.
Patriot Edmund Pendleton played a large role in the Virginia Resolution for Independence (1775) and Caroline native, John Penn, was a signer of the Declaration of Independence (www.foundersofamerica.org), albeit as a delegate from North Carolina.
Explorers, William Clark and his slave, York, were members of the Lewis and Clark Expedition (1803); both were born near what is now Ladysmith, Virginia in Caroline.
During the Civil War Confederate troops under General George E. Pickett fought Union troops near Milford in 1864. Confederate General Stonewall Jackson died at Guinea Station in Caroline County after being accidentally shot by his own troops at the Battle of Chancellorsville. He survived the gun shot wound but died later from infection due to the unsterile conditions of medical treatments of that era. John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of President Lincoln, was shot by federal troops in Caroline County.
Caroline County is bounded on the north by Stafford and King George counties; on the south by Hanover County; on the east by King William, King and Queen, and Essex counties; and on the west by Spotsylvania County.
The county is also home to a quarry that has proved a rich source of pre-historic whale and shark skeletons. The whole county is located in what was in ancient times an ocean and is now known to palaentologists as the middle Miocene Calvert Formation of Virginia. A whale skeleton discovered there in 1990 was later proved to be a new whale species (see Eobalaenoptera harrisoni).
There were 8,021 households out of which 31.70% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.30% were married couples living together, 13.20% had a female householder with no husband present, and 25.10% were non-families. 20.50% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.20% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.69 and the average family size was 3.08.
In the county, the population was spread out with 24.80% under the age of 18, 7.40% from 18 to 24, 29.90% from 25 to 44, 25.00% from 45 to 64, and 12.90% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 99.10 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 97.50 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $39,845, and the median income for a family was $43,533. Males had a median income of $31,701 versus $22,455 for females. The per capita income for the county was $18,342. About 7.20% of families and 9.40% of the population were below the poverty line, including 12.00% of those under age 18 and 11.70% of those age 65 or over.
Economic growth in Caroline in the last five years have been rapid, mostly due to affordable housing and close proximity to Northern Virginia and Washington D.C. In 2005, Caroline was recognized as the 10th Fastest Growing County in America. Also in 2005, Caroline County won the Virginia Community Ecomomic Development Award (CEDA) for Business Recruitment and the CEDA Award for the entire south from the Southern Economic Development Council.
Among recent Economic Development successes in Caroline have been the recruitment of the State Fair of Virginia, to open in 2009 (previously in Richmond since 1854 when the first State Fair opened in Monroe Park), Remuda Programs for Eating Disorders, The Virginia Sports Complex, and the multi-national electronics firm, M.C. Dean.
The town was renamed for "Bowling Green" which was the estate of town founder, Colonel John Waller Hoomes, who donated a considerable amount of land when the community became the county seat in 1803. The Bowling Green estate took its name from the Hoomes family's ancestral seat back in England, "Bolling Green". Such naming was a tradition in the Colony of Virginia. The Bowling Green Estate was the site of the first track built to race horses in America. The mansion of Major Thomas Hoomes, built in 1667, is now called the "Old Mansion". A prominent town landmark, it is the oldest continuously inhabited residence in Virginia. The Old Mansion is now on the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places.
The present Caroline County Court House was built in 1835 and Bowling Green was incorporated as a town about 2 years later, in 1837. The town is best-known as the "cradle of American horse racing" and as the home of the second oldest Masonic Lodge.
The Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad (chartered in 1834) was built through nearby Milford (just west of town) and reached Fredericksburg by 1837. This important rail link between several major northern railroads at Washington, D.C. and other major southern railroads at Richmond was long partially-owned by the Commonwealth of Virginia, and became part of CSX Transportation in the 1990s. It is a major freight railroad line for north-south traffic and the corridor also hosts many Amtrak trains. Although the closest Virginia Railway Express (VRE) commuter passenger rail service to Northern Virginia is currently accessed at Fredericksburg, future VRE extensions southward may include service at Milford which would be very convenient for Bowling Green and the surrounding area.
In modern times, Bowling Green is located along Virginia State Route 2, one of the two earlier highways between Richmond and Fredericksburg. In later years, U.S. Route 301 was built through the area, connecting Richmond with Baltimore, Maryland with what was effectively an eastern bypass of the Washington, D.C. area for north-south traffic along the U.S. east coast. A new road, Virginia State Route 207 was established from Bowling Green west to Carmel Church, where it intersects Interstate 95 in Virginia|Interstate 95 and U.S. Route 1, major north-south highways.
In 1941, the United States government acquired 77,000 acres of Caroline County to the north and east of Bowling Green and established the A.P. Hill Military Reservation. Known in modern times as Fort A.P. Hill, it was named for a Virginia military hero United States Army and later Confederate General Ambrose Powell Hill, who was killed just prior to the end of the War in 1865. At the massive complex, thousands of regular military and reserve troops undergo training each year. It has also been the site of national Jamboree gatherings of the Boy Scouts of America.
Local tradition holds that Port Royal was named after the Roy family. Dorothy Roy and her husband John owned a warehouse chartered by the crown, a ferry service across the Rappahannock River to King George County and a tavern. In the 21st century, the chimneys of the Roy house are preserved landmarks in the town.
Port Royal was incorporated as a town in 1744. The "town green", upon which stands today the Town Hall and the firehouse, was forever reserved "for public and civic use".
Shipping of property from the port began to decline after completion of railroads which began in Virginia in the 1830s. The last scheduled passenger ship service ended in 1932, supplanted by highways. However, Port Royal was served by the new highways which became U.S. Route 17 and U.S. Route 301, with their crossroads at Port Royal.
Richard and Mildred Loving challenged miscegenation laws in Caroline County, Virginia in 1958 when they married. The Supreme Court of the United States found anti-miscegenation statutes to be unconstitutional in Loving v. Virginia in 1967.